Race tech: Up close with Katusha's new Canyon Ultimate CF SLX

A seriously puffed-up machine

This article first appeared on Bikeradar

Katusha team sponsor Canyon Bicycles is sticking with the traditional weight and stiffness performance metrics for the next-generation Ultimate CF SLX, reportedly shedding nearly 200g from the current version while also boosting its efficiency and possibly even the ride quality, too.

While Canyon designed its Aeroad CF aero road bike to have a small a frontal area as possible, that clearly wasn't a concern for the Ultimate CF SLX as the tube cross-sections are larger than ever. Special headset bearings with smaller-than-usual outer diameters from German supplier Acros allow for a narrower head tube profile than the underlying 1 1/4-to-1 1/2"-diameter steerer would typically allow but otherwise it's a seriously puffed-up machine.

Much of the down tube's extra girth is afforded by the new bottom bracket shell, which is now 86mm-wide and designed for press-fit cups from Shimano, FSA, SRAM, and others. Canyon makes good use of the extra real estate with wide, asymmetrical chain stays out back, too, while the seat stays take a broader stance where they join the seat tube.

Just about all of the aluminum bits on the old bike have been replaced with carbon ones, including the rear dropouts, fork tips, and bottom bracket sleeve. Canyon says higher-modulus carbon fibers are used throughout as well, adding up to a 160-180g weight loss and a claimed bare frame weight of 800g for a 58cm size. The matching fork is now just over 300g, according to Canyon.

We found the older Ultimate CF SLX to be surprisingly comfortable out back but the stout front end couldn't quite match up. The new version looks to improve on that with a slightly softer riding fork plus an asymmetrical 'Maximus' seat tube that's more relieved on the back side than before to allow for more flex. Up top will be an optional VCLS Flat seatpost with a novel parallelogram-type structure for taking the edge off even further.

Additional features include dropout thicknesses that are shared with the Aeroad (making life easier for the mechanics), compatibility with Shimano's upcoming internal Di2 battery option, and a clever two-piece, four-bolt (!), box-section rear derailleur hanger whose sandwich-type layout both protects the dropout from wear and provides a "very, very stiff" foundation for accurate shifting.

Cable routing will be fully internal although interestingly, Canyon will stick with separate frames for mechanical and electronic drivetrains.

"It looks better for an expensive frame and actually, we have no requests from customers – only from an employee from Mavic," said Canyon road bike product manager Sebastian Jadczak.

Canyon will include the new frame in its mid-October web site update but the first deliveries won't be until the end of December or early January. Not surprisingly, the greater performance will carry with it a higher price although Jadczak insists it reflects an increase in raw material costs, not a bigger profit margin.

"The frame is much lighter and the price for us it is more expensive," he told BikeRadar in the team pit area. "We are using a much higher modulus carbon fiber than the current frame."

Frameset price is still to be determined but a complete bike with Shimano Ultegra will cost around €3,000.

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